When I Give Up is the Best Choice

Never give up. Never surrender. Noble words. But don’t you wonder if sometimes it’s okay to be too tired, too overwhelmed, too done? It is more than okay. Sometimes crying, screaming, or saying I give up is the best choice for you.

Photo focused on a young woman's hands held up as if to stop something from seeing her or getting too close. Yes. Sometimes saying I give up is the best choice

But persistence is the key to success, you argue. Yes, persistence plays a huge part in success. But, there times when the goal you’ve been working so hard to achieve is beyond your reach. It may be bad timing. There may be a crisis in your life that requires all your energy and time. Maybe the goal simply isn’t right for you any longer. Or, you may have made a wrong-for-you choice. 

Have you heard of Survivorship Bias? It’s a psychological term that labels a blind spot we all have a cognitive bias. We overestimate our chances of success because we overlook or ignore the failures. We tell ourselves that if we focus on success, we will succeed.  

I have met many entrepreneurs who have the passion and even the work ethic to succeed – but who are so obsessed with an idea that they don’t see its obvious flaws. Think about that. If you can’t even acknowledge your failures, how can you cut the rope and move on? 

-Kevin O’Leary.

Why don’t we see the failures? Failures aren’t as visible. And we humans often aren’t realistic. We set a goal based on the success we admire and not on our abilities, talents, and reality. 

When failure becomes invisible, the difference between failure and success may also become invisible.

David McRaney, You are Not So Smart

You can learn more about Survivorship Bias here or here.

One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or to try again.

― Ziad K. Abdelnour

So how do you know when you’re holding onto an unattainable goal? How do you know when “I give up” is the best choice for you? 

Hard Questions

Ask yourself hard questions. There are no right answers. You don’t have to share your answers with anyone. But if you answer these questions with total honesty, you’ll find the answer within. 

1. In your heart of hearts, do you think it will work?

2. You wanted this before, but what about now?

3. Does pursuing this thing make you really unhappy?

4. Is the only reason you haven’t quit because you’re afraid what other people will think?

5. Are you sticking with it because you don’t know who you are without it? 

6. Would you be happier pursuing something else? 

7. Is your inability to do this thing making you hate yourself?

8. Does the idea of giving up flood you with relief?

9. When doing this thing are you physically and emotionally depleted at the end of the day?

10. Are you holding on to that goal because you’ve invested so much time and money into it?

11. Is your quest for this goal taking over all other aspects of your life? You can no longer enjoy life.

12 Are you starting have doubts about your abilities?

13. Do you wake up in the morning and your first thought is about giving up?

14. Are you focused on the future or dwelling on the past?

15. Have you waited a week and you still want to quit?

Comfort for Hard Choices

Are you still waffling? Feeling guilty for giving up? Here are some things to think about.


we are most courageous

when we let go.

alison malee

Sometimes peace is more important than winning. 


If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s okay to give up on things that don’t give back to you.


In the end, everything will be okay. If it’s no okay, it’s not yet the end.

–Fernando Sabino

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

— Dalai Lama

The only courage that matters is

the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.

— Mignon McLaughlin

Persistence is necessary for success. But direct that energy wisely. To continue on with a goal that no longer has a positive meaning for you is worse than fruitless, it’s damaging. 

Is there something you’re hanging onto that is eating away at you? Are the goals you’ve given up on about which you feel guilty? Remember, sometimes I give up is the best choice.

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